Superintendent Corey Burton spoke to the city council during a regular meeting May 24 to discuss the process of a developing a ballot on a 1 percent special tax.
The special tax would fund a bond to upgrade and merge USD 214 schools. In total, the development is projected to cost $45 million. Burton shared outlines and figures at the meeting to further explain the structures and timelines for each facility.
“We would like to push for an August 29 bond election,” said Burton.
If a primary election takes place, a different date for the bond election must be selected.
The bond would allow a dramatic facelift for the interior of Hickok Elementary, Sullivan Elementary, and Ulysses High School.
Burton stated that the inside of each facility would be “like walking into a totally different school”. The organization of grades may be adjusted with the ongoing development as well. Burton entertained the idea of holding Pre-K through third grade at Hickok Elementary, fourth through sixth grade at Sullivan Elementary, and seventh through 12th at UHS.
Middle school students would become part of the student body at UHS, leaving the purpose of Kepley Middle School in question.
“We would continue to use the auditorium," Burton said. "We would continue to use the gym for practices and games. Our plan, right now, is to transition the newer part of the building into the district office.”
Currently, Joyce School is the headquarters for the district to conduct operations. With the relocation of central office, the possibility of repurposing Joyce School has been in talks. Burton mentioned daycare, housing, and outreach courses among the ideas for the future of the historic building.
Council member Terry Maas questioned Burton about improvements to school security measures.
“It would bring in all new lock systems," Burton answered. "The worst system we have, as far as security, is the middle school. We would be moving away from the middle school so we would still have entrances set up to where, during the day, any visitors have to come through the front and the office before they have access to the rest of the building. We are also moving those kids away from the highway (KS-25).”
Another security concern is the weight room at UHS.
“We have 250 kids in weight class and in between buildings," Burton said. "That creates safety issues with doors being propped open.”
Once updated, all UHS students would be contained within one building for all courses.
The decision whether to hold a primary election or not will be made by noon June 1.
Mayor Tim McCauley emphasized that the city’s part in the proposed special tax ballot is solely a requirement and not a movement to show support for or against the school bond.
In other new business, Sylvia Ortiz and Karla Moncayo requested roadblocks and trash cans for the Mexican Independence Festival coming up September 16. The festival will run from 2 to 11 p.m.
The Grant County Community Needs Assessment will be live the week of June 5-18. Margaret Obholz, on behalf of Impact Ulysses, promoted the survey at the meeting.
“All organizations in the community will get to use the collected data to show us what people need regarding health and wellness," said Obholz.
Those who complete and submit the survey can expect an incentive including a $5 gift card and, possibly, entry into a raffle. Lucy Watie and her team of community health workers will be available to assist the community with the survey.
McCauley called for an executive session towards the end of the meeting. After 15 minutes, the council came back with no action taken.
The next city council meeting will be at 5 p.m., Wednesday, June 7 at City Hall.
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